Lodging industry in Park City set for busy holiday season | ParkRecord.com

Lodging industry in Park City set for busy holiday season

Like any other holiday season in Park City, people are expected to arrive in large numbers.

But Bill Malone, president and CEO of the Park City Chamber/Bureau, said the timing of when the people come may be slightly different this year. Projected lodging numbers in town are strong through much of the next two weeks compared to last year’s results, but they hit a slight lull from Dec. 24 through Dec. 29. Historically, it’s an unusual time for a dip.

"It looks like our strength this year has kind of shifted to the later portion of the Christmas-New Year holiday time period and away from the early side," Malone said, adding that reservations are trending up again for the New Year’s weekend. "It might have to do with what day the holiday is falling on — a Friday versus a Thursday last year."

The Christmas lull is small, with bookings during that period only about 4 or 5 percent off the pace of last year’s numbers. While the drop is interesting, it’s small enough that most in town won’t notice the effects, Malone said.

"The thing to keep in mind is we’re talking about being at around 88 percent (occupancy), versus 92 percent at the peak," he said. "I don’t think there’s a lot of distinguishable difference. I don’t think it’s anything that anybody will feel. Once we reach those 80 percent occupancy numbers, it’s busy in town — restaurants are very busy, parking is at a premium, all of those things."

The numbers also detail projected occupancy for another important date for the lodging industry — the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday weekend. The Sundance Film Festival moved the event off that weekend, freeing it up for ski vacationers, as part of a long-term agreement with City Hall.

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Malone said there is now an opportunity to turn the weekend into one of the strongest of the year. The lodging industry, though, has acknowledged that it may take a few years for people to learn they can book ski vacations during a time the town has traditionally been full of festival-goers. But the word may be starting to get out.

The Chamber/Bureau has marketed the weekend extensively along the West Coast, and those efforts have already begun to bear fruit, Malone said. Projected occupancy during that weekend, which runs from Friday, Jan. 15 to Monday, Jan. 18, is at 64 percent compared to last year’s 51 percent.

"I’m excited over the fact that what we’re doing seems to be working," he said.

Overall, the lodging numbers are mostly good news and show that Park City will likely be busy this winter. But Malone acknowledged that occupancy is not shaping up to be quite as strong as it could be. Last year’s lack of snowfall could be making people hesitant to book vacations until they see more powder this winter.

"There have got to be a lot of people still sitting on the fence waiting for snowfall before they’ll pull the trigger on a vacation," he said. "Depending on what happens here in the near future in terms of weather, that could help us out a lot."

Malone added that it’s crucial for the lodging industry to have a strong holiday season and that it’s an anxious time of year for everybody.

"If you lose time at the holidays, you just never get to make it up because you don’t charge that rate again," he said. "If you’re in the lodging business, you really have two peak time frames in terms of rates, the holidays and Sundance. If you miss those opportunities, you don’t get to make them up, so it’s important to do well during the holidays in terms of maximizing revenue."